All posts by Dustin

Dustin is a lifelong angler who channels his passion for the sport into all aspects of his life. By trade, Dustin is the president/owner of Fishwest, Inc. Otherwise, he can often be found lost in thoughts of his next saltwater destination or the next time he can stand in steelhead waters casting a two-hander.
The author taking business into his own hands.

Yellowstone – A Multi Part Series – 3 of 6

In July of 2012, I was selected to join Chris Hunt and Kirk Deeter of Trout Unlimited, Rebecca Garlock, Bruce Smithhammer, Steve Zakur, and several representatives of Simms, The National Park Service, and The Yellowstone Park Foundation in a tour of Yellowstone.  We were directly involved in removal of the invasive lake trout from Yellowstone Lake, stream study on Soda Butte Creek, and stream recovery on Specimen Creek. This is the third of a six part series recounting my adventures. This was my first trip to Yellowstone.

In part two, we saw how involved and messy gill netting for the small lakers can be.  But what about the big boys?  What about the mature adult that is actively reproducing?  Obviously the whole gill netting thing will not work on a fish that size. So instead of the spider web analogy, lets switch over to the corn maze.  Easy to get into one…not so easy to get out.

What happens is this.  A huge live trap net is set in the lake.  This massive enclosure has a series of extensions on it that are like long hallways.  Hallways that are hundreds of feet long.  Big guys swim in, hang out, can’t find the exit.  And then the men on the boat go to work.

This is where the action really picks up.  We left the gill net boat feeling pretty satisfied with what we had just participated in, but we literally had no idea as to the massive undertaking necessary to get rid of the Lakers.  Yellowstone Lake is big and very deep which is perfect for Lake Trout.  They are literally in Laker Valhalla in this majestic body of water, and they do get big.

The crew starts out by retrieving the net.  I never quite figured out if the net was stationary and we were moving or vise versa, but either way, we were in for the surprise of our lives when the catch started revealing itself.

There are some fish that get caught in the net, but most are still alive when the crew started hoisting it aboard.  But the big show was the huge net enclosure that held numbers of biblical proportions.  The sheer number of big fish was astounding.  To compare what we were seeing to the 167,000 plus that had been retrieved up to that point just blows your mind.  I caught myself looking out at the lake an just trying to grasp just how many leviathans were swimming in those waters.

In the picture below you see a tub full of dead Lake Trout.  To get an idea of how large these fish were, the box they are in was about two and a half feet by twenty inches by two feet.  Just about every fish we brought to the boat would be grip and grin status.

 There were several tubs stationed at the rear of the boat.  By the time our work was done.  Every tub would be full.  It bears mentioning again that this operation is taking place, every day for at least ten hours per day.

Tracking devices are placed in some of the Lakers.  The use of these trackers is to identify movement of the fish throughout the lake.  Listening stations placed in various locations in the lake will monitor movement of the fish as they go about their day.  The hope is to positively identify spawning locations so that they can begin the arduous task of killing eggs.  There is still an ongoing discussion as to how they could best accomplish this.  Everything from UV rays to a vacuum system has been brought to the table.  The Park Service, Trout Unlimited, and The Yellowstone Park Foundation are actively pursuing their options with a hope to tackle this next battlefield soon.  The telemetry study was started in August of last year.  141 tags and 40 receivers were implemented.  As of this writing, there are 221 tags and 55 recievers on and in Yellowstone Lake.  This is not a cheap undertaking either.  Trout Unlimited purchased 153 tags at a cost of 85,000 dollars and the National Park Service purchased 68 tags at a cost of 25,000 dollars.

And yes, some of the Cutthroat are caught.  Here is the statistics as best as I can recall.  In a day when we caught probably close to 1,000 trout.  I only saw two Cutthroat dead at the gill net boat, and I think there were maybe five live Cutties on the live net boat.

The large holding net is brought to the side of the boat and there are literally hundreds of fish swimming around.  A long net is used, and you simply lean over and scoop up a net full of fish.  It is really quite amazing.  And keep in mind that you are scooping netfulls of 20″-30″ fish.  Exhilarating to say the least.  There were a couple that were to big to fit into the net.  You would scoop through the holding net, get the bruisers head in it, and that would be all that would fit.  That is when the crew stepped in and gilled them to the boat.

After the fish are caught.  They are cut, identified as male of female, and the air bladder is ruptured.  A lot were full of eggs.  Thousands of eggs.  This is the point when it all started coming together for me.  We caught and killed a multitude of these fish, but if you also take into consideration how many eggs we removed form the life cycle of the species in this lake, the numbers were staggering.  I really felt like I had done something that was good, worthwhile, and important.  Important to more than just the Cutthroat.  It was important to the total ecosystem of the park.  And that is a very good thing.

Though Lake Trout are a very good food source, and plentiful, these fish are not put into the food market.  My thought was that they could be used to feed the homeless, needy, mobile meals, but the logistics and cost of doing this are just not feasible at this time.  So much would be involved in trying to get this idea off the ground, and the amount of money it would require prohibit it.

So we left that afternoon feeling very good about what we had done.  The conversation among us was like that of a team after winning the big game.  We recounted the events, smiled, shook our heads in disbelief, and made our way north to the Lamar Valley.

 *Photos by Rebecca Garlock, Chris Hunt, Steve Zakur, and Marc Payne

Sage Circa Fly Rods – Prepare To Be Impressed

We only had a short time to spend with these new rods, but from what we saw…we were very much impressed.  Our first thoughts were, “Oh great, another sloppy, slower action rod” and boy were we wrong.  With the new Konnetic technology, these are crisp, smooth, full flexing beautiful fly rods.  When we picked up the 5wt, we thought for sure that it was a 3wt because it was so light in hand and the diameter of the blank was so narrow.  We are excited to get these rods in and available to you!

Sage posted a nice article about them and an accompanying video:

If you’re a devotee of the casting nuances of the slow action fly rod, a student of its historic ties to our sport, or just like the thrill of moving in close to actively feeding fish, consider our new CIRCA rod a reward for your years of dedication.

But be warned: the CIRCA does not mimic the type of slow action that has so far defined the category – overly soft, willowy and flat. Instead, thanks to Konnetic technology’s ability to compact and align more carbon fibers into a smaller diameter blank, we were able to design a radically narrow taper throughout the length of the rod, resulting in consistently slow, yet responsive action from butt to tip. Our new CIRCA rod is a technologically advanced slow-action fly rod that honors your slower, more deliberate casting style, yet is every bit a Sage.   Read more…

Product Review: Simms Dry Creek Tech Pouch

The Simms Dry Creek Tech Pouch is simply a glorified zip-lock bag…or is it???  This little bag is made of durable waterproof material and includes features like a zip-lock AND roll-top closure to insure that the belongings inside stay dry.   The cord allows it to be worn around your neck or tethered to a larger bag (or boat, etc).

The nature of the sport we love is that we are around water.   It doesn’t matter where you fish…high elevation trout, Pacific Northwest steelhead or tropical saltwater destinations.  You can and will get wet.  We also carry expensive electronics, ie- smart phones, GPS units, etc.  The Simms Dry Creek Tech Pouch is a simple and cost-effective way to protect these items while still being able to keep them with you while you fish.

When traveling abroad, I keep three things with me at all times; my money clip, my cell phone and my passport.  These are not items that I am going to be leaving in my hotel room or anywhere else.  On a recent bonefishing trip, we had an incredible amount of rain.  It rained almost every day.  Using the Tech Pouch, I was able to take those items out on the flats and not once have to worry about them getting wet.  The items in the pouch may be the only things that weren’t wet at the end of the day!

Pros:

  • Very light and travels well.
  • Clear screen allows you to see whats inside.
  • Touch screen on phones will work through the clear screen.

Cons:

  • Neck strap provides little to no padding, but it isn’t too heavy anyway.

The Simms Dry Creek Tech Pouch is a seemingly simple product, but is packed with features and functionality…making it worth its weight in gold.

 

Sol Sunguard Bluewater Sunscreen

If you are like me, you hate putting sunscreen on your face.  Mostly for the fact that by early afternoon, fishing hard in the hot sun, you sweat and start getting it in your eyes.  They burn, they water and become pretty much intolerable.  I may have found the solution..

For years while attending different outdoor retailer shows, I have seen this crazy sales guy putting sunscreen in his eyes during demos.  I always just shook my head and kept moving.  Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago, while packing for a bonefishing trip I was buying sunscreen and saw the Sol products.  I thought, “what the hell, I’ll give it a try.”  It turns out it works!  I fished six days in the hot Bahamian sun, putting the Sol Bluewater Sunscreen on my face every morning, and not once did I have any irritation from sunscreen in my eyes.  So, now I am a believer.  This isn’t even a product that we sell yet, but trust me…we will.

Product Description (from the Sol website):

Specifically created for those whose love of the water runs deep. In fact, Sol BlueWater has been all-day tested in tropical waters, just like the people who wear it. Sol BlueWater’s ultra low chemical-active formula uses Z-Cote, a powerful, microfine zinc oxide that offers transparent and total protection against both UVA and UVB rays. Its unique fragrance-free, emulsion-loc technology means the sunscreen stays on your skin and out of your eyes. Skin protecting emollients protect your skin from drying, chapping and irritation. Get some sun, but first get some Sol. Extra gentle, formulated for water-sports.

Have any of you used this product?  Have you found anything else that doesn’t irritate your eyes?